Category Archives: Public Administration

Development of a Coding and Crosswalk Tool for Occupations and Industries

Source: Thomas Rémen, Lesley Richardson, Corinne Pilorget, Gilles Palmer, Jack Siemiatycki, Jérôme Lavoué, Annals of Work Exposures and Health, Advance Access, June 15, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Introduction:
Job coding into a standard occupation or industry classification is commonly performed in occupational epidemiology and occupational health. Sometimes, it is necessary to code jobs into multiple classifications or to convert job codes from one classification to another. We developed a generic tool, called CAPS-Canada (http://www.caps-canada.ca/), that combines a computer-assisted coding tool covering seven International, Canadian and US occupation and industry classifications and an assistant facilitating crosswalks from one classification to another. The objectives of this paper are to present the different functions of the CAPS-Canada tool and to assess their contribution through an inter-rater reliability study.

Method:
The crosswalk assistant was built based on a database of >30,000 jobs coded during a previous project. We evaluated to what extent it would allow automatic translation between pairs of classifications. The influence of CAPS-Canada on agreement between coders was assessed through an inter-rater reliability study comparing three approaches: manual coding, coding with CAPS-Canada without the crosswalk assistant, and coding with the complete tool. The material for this trial consisted of a random sample of 1000 jobs extracted from a case–control study and divided into three subgroups of equivalent size.

Results:
Across the classification systems, the crosswalk assistant would provide useful information for 83–99% of jobs (median 95%) in a population similar to ours. Eighteen to eighty-one percent of jobs (median 56%) could be entirely automatically recoded. Based on our sample of 1000 jobs, inter-rater reliability in occupation coding ranged from 35.7 to 66.5% (median 53.7%) depending on the combination of classification/resolution. Compared with manual coding, the use of CAPS-Canada substantially improved inter-rater reliability.

Conclusion:
CAPS-Canada is an attractive alternative to manual coding and is particularly relevant for coding a job into multiple classifications or for recoding jobs into other classifications.

Unfilled Jobs Take Toll on Governments Across the Country

Source: Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene, Governing, February 8, 2018

When vacancies are high, there are consequences — and many places are feeling them. …. Some vacancies are expected, even normal, but when they get too high, there are consequences: Permits aren’t renewed, inspections are missed, backlogs grow, overtime costs swell and services are reduced…..

Why Is Government One of the Worst Industries for Equal Pay?

Source: Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene, Governing, May 18, 2017

Women working in public administration make, on average, 25 percent — or $16,900 — less than men.

Related:
Unions help narrow the gender wage gap
Source: Elise Gould and Celine McNichols, Economic Policy Institute, Working Economics Blog, April 3, 2017

….One promising way to address both gender-specific disparities and the broken link between all typical workers’ pay and economy-wide productivity growth is through the resuscitation of collective bargaining. Unions have been proven to provide women with higher wages and better benefits. As shown in the figure below, working women in unions are paid 94 cents, on average, for every dollar paid to unionized working men, compared to 78 cents on the dollar for non-union women as a share of non-union men’s dollar. Furthermore, hourly wages for women represented by unions are 23 percent higher than for nonunionized women. Unions provide a boost to women regardless of their race or ethnicity. The gender wage gap is significantly smaller among both white and black unionized workers than their non-union counterparts. Unionized workers are also more likely to have access to various kinds of paid leave, from paid sick days, vacations, and holidays to paid family and medical leave, enabling them to balance work and family obligations…..

States Struggle to Close Their Own Gender Pay Gaps

Source: Teresa Wiltz, Stateline, February 17, 2017

California has the most stringent equal pay laws in the nation. But among its own workers, the state is still struggling to close the pay gap between men and women.

Women who work for the state earn 79 cents for every dollar that men earn, according to a 2014 report by the California Department of Human Resources. That’s a wider gap than that faced by women who work in the private sector or for the federal government in the state.

California isn’t alone. While nationwide data is not available, male state workers earn more than their female counterparts in many states, including Idaho, Maryland and Texas.

An assessment last year by the online salary data firm PayScale listed the gender pay gap in public administration the fourth-highest among 21 professions and industries across the economy, with women making less than 75 percent of what men make — an average of $16,900 less. The gap in public administration trailed only finance and insurance, professional services and mining.

Many cities, including Alexandria, Virginia, New Orleans and Sacramento, have spotted the gap and tried to address it, just as some states have…..

What everyone should know about their state’s budget

Source: Urban Institute, 2017
[tool was funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation]

State and local governments educate schoolchildren, train the future workforce, care for the sick and elderly, build roads, patrol neighborhoods, extinguish fires, and maintain parks. In short, they’re pretty important. But few Americans understand where their state and local tax dollars go and to what effect. It’s not just the amount of money spent that matters, it’s why that money is spent the way it is.

Through this web tool, we aim to fill that knowledge gap. The tool allows users to get under the hood of their government and understand not only how much a state spends but also what drives that spending.

To do this, we apply a basic framework to all major areas of government spending. The framework says that state spending per capita is both a function of how many people receive a service and how much that service costs the state for each recipient. ….

…In this tool, you’ll see the spending per capita breakdown for all states and the District of Columbia across all major functional categories. It allows you to see how each state ranks, and you can sort by any factor you choose. (One frequent outlier is DC; though included in the rankings, it often functions more like a city than a state) We’ve included some annotations to guide you along the way. By exploring the tool, you’ll gain a sense of how much each state spends on any given area and why states spend what they do. ….

Experts, Amateurs, and Bureaucratic Influence in the American States

Source: Graeme T. Boushey and Robert J. McGrath, Journal of Public Admin Research and Theory, Advance Access, First published online: August 27, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Over the past century, the size and reach of American state governments has increased dramatically, altering the balance of power across state capitols. Although state legislatures were historically privileged as “firsts among equals,” modern administrative reforms have transformed state governments from legislative-centric to executive-dominated systems. In many states, part-time citizen legislatures now operate alongside fully professionalized executives. We introduce a new measure capturing the relative professionalism of state legislative and executive branches, allowing us to explore the policy consequences of the rising imbalance of power across states governments. Drawing upon a large panel data set of proposed and adopted state regulations from 1990 through 2010, we demonstrate that the eroding policy expertise of state legislators has resulted in increased bureaucratic participation in the policy process, as amateur politicians rely more heavily on professionalized executive agencies to define problems and develop solutions. Our findings highlight intuitive, yet understudied, consequences of common institutional reforms and speak to recent and recurring debates about the separation of powers and public policymaking.

Office Ergonomics Evaluation in a Naturalistic Work Environment

Source: Jia-Hua Lin, Stephen Bao, Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, Publication #:62-3-2016, 2016

An ergonomics evaluation study was conducted for Insurance Services – Support Services within Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. The objectives ofthe study were:
1) To identify ergonomic risk factors that may be associated with updated technologies that the existing guidelines might not take into account.
2) To measure physical exposures to workers from current tasks and office equipment, and compare with historical trends

….The results showed that workers spent a slightly more time on computers than 7 years ago, with an additional increase of other tasks at the desk. The employees were at their desk, sitting or standing, for about 74% of the time, and 44% of the work shift was spent for data entry in the current study. In comparison, 80% time at desk (performing data entry and other desk tasks) and 60% for data entry in the 1991 study…..

How you buy affects what you get: Technology acquisition by state governments

Source: Kawika Pierson, Fred Thompson, Government Information Quarterly, In Press – Corrected Proof, Available online June 24, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Research suggests that governments should rely on standardized information technology solutions rather than custom built ones. We find that, for many categories of taxes, states that have contracted out the development of their tax-processing systems to providers offering standardized solutions see statistically and economically significant increases in collections relative to states that have not. We find no evidence that financial administration expenditures increase for these states. At the same time, there are several categories of taxes where we do not find a positive impact. We reconcile these findings by developing a qualitative argument that standardized solutions in tax administration may be most effective for the types of taxes that are the most difficult to enforce.

Highlights
• Leverages a natural experiment to test government IT acquisition strategies.
• Uses tax collection as an objective outcome measure.
• Compares governments that adopt more standardized solutions with those that do not.
• Governments with standardized solutions show significantly higher tax collections.
• Collection improvements seem more likely in taxes that are harder to enforce.

Stronger together​: What’s driving the government co-op market

Source: Derek Prall, American City and County, June 7, 2016

Government Co-ops – it’s a term many city and county officials have heard, but few outside of the public procurement profession really understand intimately. And while it may not be important for every government worker’s day-to-day job, billions of dollars pass through these organizations annually. Knowing how and why these entities work will only grow in importance as they become more popular. So what are government co-ops, how do they function, and how are they impacting the way governments deliver goods and services?…